There was a certain irony in Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hiding from the world for 5 long days whilst all around him a Force 10 storm erupted about his social media platform.
Facebook is all about instant connections, instant feedback, total transparency and global sharing. Perhaps this signals just how powerful Mark Z has become, and how he can call the shots. Facebook is bigger than China; with 2 billion users it’s not just a brand or a product, it’s a way of life so essential to its users that they can’t imagine living without it.
Whoever reads the 100 pages of terms and conditions? Instead we are likely to whizz to the ‘I agree’ to click and get on with our lives. What makes this debate so complex is the vast gulf between good and evil - no one can dispute the warm glow when families and friends unite globally, charities prosper through enhanced connections, missing persons are found.
But in the other corner our data is being used in dubious ways, allegedly coercing us to vote based on our beliefs and vulnerabilities. And yet we are all complicit; as we are in all sorts of areas when we turn a blind eye to evidence unable to forfeit our love of cheap convenience. After all everyone is doing it so it must be ok - right?
Perhaps a positive may yet emerge from this whole debacle; that of greater consumer awareness of how individually and collectively we can influence even large organisations by questioning their permissions and actions and being vocal in demands for clarity about use of our data. A win-win would surely be that customers can continue to benefit from great social platforms like Facebook, whilst being reassured that their data is being respected.
It’s not only customers who are re-evaluating their relationships with Facebook; more worrying for them is their actual paying customers, the advertisers who have boosted the platform to be its £billions value. That more than anything will force the issue of transparency.
I’ve never used Facebook, being dubbed a dinosaur by pals who have to remember to text me - what a drag! Interestingly the platform has a majority of over 40 age group profile with millennials abandoning it to Instagram and Snapchat. And so it’s surely in their interest to earn the trust of a new generation by their learnings from this week.
“Integrity is not something you show others. It is how you behave behind their back.”